Friday, November 07, 2008

The résumé candidates

This year may finally have spelled the end of the résumé candidates for president. Democrats had a slew of résumé candidates competing in their primaries but chose instead the résumé-lite but inspirational Barack Obama. Republicans had mostly résumé-heavy candidates this year that did little to inspire the base of the party. The most inspirational candidate this year on the Republican side? Governor Sarah Palin*.

Four years ago Democrats passed over the more inspirational candidates and went for the résumé candidate John Kerry. Eight years ago Democrats went for the résumé of Al Gore. Both candidates were defeated by the pedigreed George Bush, a wash of sorts.

But 12 years ago the résumé candidate was Bob Dole. He lost to Bill Clinton, who also defeated another résumé candidate, George H. W. Bush. George H. W. Bush defeated résumé candidate Michael Dukakis, largely because the country was still inspired by Ronald Reagan. Reagan the actor (although he had a pretty good résumé himself) defeated 1980 résumé candidate George H. W. Bush in the primaries.

As Republicans begin to consider who their candidate will be in 2012, they really need to consider not only the qualifications but also whether that person can inspire the public (especially the political base). Voters are looking for a leader and not just a résumé and a list of policy prescriptions.

* Who had more experience than the Democratic nominee.